’68 Summer Olympics in Mexico City

Gold medallist Tommie Smith, (center) and bronze medallist John Carlos (right) showing the raised fist on the podium after the 200m in the 1968 Summer Olympics wearing Olympic Project for Human Rights badges. The third athlete is silver medalist Peter Norman from Australia wearing an OPHR badge to show his support for the two Americans.

Gold medallist Tommie Smith, (center) and bronze medallist John Carlos (right) showing the raised fist on the podium in Mexico City.  Peter Norman is the 3rd athlete, and he is wearing a badge to show his support for the two Americans.

The 1968 Olympics Black Power salute was an act of protest by American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos.  They each raised a black-gloved fist as they turned to face the U.S. flag.  Their actions are one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the modern Olympic Games.  Given Martin Luther King’s assassination earlier in the year, African-Americans were banding together for equal human rights.  It was such a powerful gesture for these men to show solidarity for the world to see.  They were pathfinders for others who searched for peaceful ways to show their support for a cause.  Unfortunately, the International Olympic Committee did not approve.  Both were expelled  from the games, and the world media shunned them.

Hey Jude” was #1 at the time of the 1968 Summer Olympics.

By the way, I wasn’t even 3 months old when the ’68 Olympics took place.  But, I can picture my father sitting in front of the television, at our house in Davenport, Iowa.  He would have (most likely) yelled at the screen, as he often did throughout my childhood.  I can imagine him saying something  like, “They are a disgrace to our country.  Send them back to Africa!”  He would’ve probably gone on to say, “See!  This shit would have never happened if they hadn’t started desegregating in the south.”  Obviously, my dad refused to open his mind to any perspective other than his own (and we often fought because of this).

The day after the Tlatelolco Massacre in Mexico City, protesters draw chalk outlines of human bodies and doves with fake blood.

The day after the Tlatelolco Massacre in Mexico City, protesters draw chalk outlines of human bodies.

At any rate, I think it is hypocritical that the International Olympic Committee was so punishing of The Black Power Salute.  Because, they seemed to have no problem with the host city (Mexico City) slaughtering up to 300 civilians just 10 days before the Olympics began.  I suppose that all the money that had been spent for the ’68 Summer Olympics was more important than the lives of innocent Mexicans?

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Filed under Davenport, Equality, Iowa, Music, Politics

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